Status: 08/03/2022 03:27
Collective bargaining between Lufthansa and ver.di on pay increases for ground staff is entering its third round. Is there a deal or is there another strike?
This morning’s meeting at a major hotel at Frankfurt airport is eagerly awaited. Not just from the ver.di union, which is now hoping for a clear concession from Lufthansa in collective bargaining after the ground staff’s warning strike last week; but also vacationers and business travelers who are hoping for crucial news: avoiding new warning strikes thanks to a tariff solution. It would also be in the interest of the airline, strikes are very expensive.
Compromise rather than confrontation?
Ver.di has recently been on a divisive trajectory. Exactly a week ago, many of Lufthansa’s approximately 20,000 ground staff stopped work for a day from Wednesday to Thursday morning. As a result, the two largest German airports in Frankfurt am Main and Munich were largely paralyzed. More than 1,000 flights were canceled and around 134,000 passengers suffered, including many holidaymakers.
“We hope that the employers have understood the signal and will present us with an offer which can be closed”, says Christine Behle, ver.di negotiator, before the start of the new round of collective bargaining. tagesschau.de. “We took two days and hope to be able to get a result in this round. But it depends on whether the employers are ready to approach us more strongly,” said ver.di’s vice president.
The workers’ union continues to demand a uniform salary increase of 9.5% or at least 350 euros more per month for Lufthansa ground staff, i.e. employees of Lufthansa AG Ground , Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Cargo and other company subsidiaries. These include check-in staff, but also technicians and logisticians, without whose services the plane cannot take off. ver.di wants a new collective agreement for them for a period of twelve months.
Differences and similarities
Lufthansa, on the other hand, previously offered a term of 18 months. At least an approximation seems feasible here. Employers and employees are a little further apart when it comes to monthly salary increases. Lufthansa wants to agree on fixed amounts which, although they represent an increase of up to almost 15% in the lower salary range, are lower than the 350 euros per month demanded by ver.di. In the higher salary classes, the percentage increase is also significantly lower at 9.5%.
Ver.di’s biggest point of criticism: the airline also wants to make the increases dependent on its own business development – which leads to further uncertainties in the current pandemic situation. “What was offered in the second round was clearly not enough,” explains Behle, representative of ver.di. “Also, the employers only wanted to make a second increase in a results-oriented way. However, that would be a blank check for the employees and therefore out of the question for us.”
Both sides seem ready to compromise
For its part, Lufthansa is looking forward to the negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday. “We are optimistic about the talks with ver.di and are confident that we can jointly agree solutions for the 20,000 employees of Deutsche Lufthansa AG in the negotiations,” said the statement from Lufthansa spokesman Martin Leutke.
Behind the scenes, the situation is estimated according to information from tagesschau.de that there should be a solution to the collective bargaining dispute this week, also because the two sides do not seem so far apart in their ideas. And vice-president of ver.di Behle stresses: “Of course, compromises must always be made by both parties in negotiations.” But the crane airline needs to significantly improve its offering and move, according to Behle. “This is what employees expect, who are under enormous pressure, both in terms of workload and financially.”
More warning strikes?
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has called on both sides to find a quick solution before the upcoming negotiations, thus increasing the pressure again. Earlier this week, ver.di celebrated its success when the union was able to agree wage increases of up to 26% for ground staff with several small handling companies at German airports. Lufthansa, on the other hand, is in a tough overall situation as Lufthansa pilots also voted to strike in a ballot last Sunday after collective bargaining stalled. However, the group still tries to prevent this.
A timely solution between Lufthansa and its ground staff could at least offer some relaxation at German airports, also for the many travelers during the holiday season. However, ver.di negotiator Behle warns: “Employers have the power to avoid further warning strikes.”